When Penelope posted her Opinion piece about a certain episode of the television series “Seinfeld,” [“From Soup to NUTS!!” - http://www.lit.org/view/39156], a series I never particularly cared for, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to comment with a sly reference from one of MY current favorite television programs, Fox’s “Family Guy” (also shown nightly – late! – during the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” programming block.) I’ll be the first to admit that “Family Guy” is outrageous, most likely an acquired taste, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, whatever your demographic or intellectual inclination. I happen to think it’s a hoot.
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In one famous (at least to fans) scene, most members of the Griffin family (our heroes) are locked in their panic room during a burglary, and the room is flooding (for reasons I can’t remember and that don’t matter.) As the water rises around their necks, father Peter Griffin (who usually takes the stereotyped bumbling sit-com dad to absurd extremes) utters what he thinks may be his last words to his family:
“Did not care for 'The Godfather'.”
This naturally sparks a spirited debate among them regarding the artistic merits of the film, even as the floodwaters continue to rise over their chins. When pressed for his objections, Peter simply states, “It insists upon itself.”
To see the clip for yourself, surf to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOWsSYqrY_s
I didn’t realize until I decided to write my comment that this phrase has apparently become a bit of a catch phrase. If you Google it, you’ll actually find numerous references to it online. One blog in particular riffs on the phrase in a way that ties in to my gut reaction to those episodes of “Seinfeld” that I’ve seen. (Admittedly not many.) The following was written by someone named Suzy Perplexus on hiyaablog.com:
“Why don't you like the $10,000 plastic chair next to the vodka luge? It insists upon itself. Why won't you wait in line for that cigar and whiskey bar? It insists upon itself. Why don't you like that feature-length, silent, avant-garde film? It's too f**king long and boring...and it insists upon itself.”
“I am starting a movement. One where heavy-handed intellectualism, material elitism and inane hipsterism is called out and bitch slapped in the street. I know ‘keepin' it real’ is an early 90's concept and that we're still focusing on the late eighties; however, there's nothing wrong with being an early adopter.”
Can I get an “Amen”?!
To me, “Seinfeld” seemed to grab me by the lapels and earnestly shout, “Hey! Look! Check out how terribly hip and urbane and how very, very About Nothing this show is!” It seemed too self-conscious. It tried too hard to be cool. That’s just how it struck me.
I have no doubt others could fault “Family Guy” and its companion series “American Dad” (in which the bumbling dad is a CIA agent and the family has a goldfish with a German accent and a gay alien living in the attic) on many levels. I certainly wouldn’t insult the intelligence of someone who didn’t “get it.” Maybe I just prefer my comedy on the broad, edgy, outrageous side. Chacun à son goût.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx